On Bullpen Management in the 2016 Playoffs
The fall of 2016 has been a season of extremes. In the very first game of the postseason, we saw the Baltimore Orioles lose the most important game of their season with their best pitcher, Zach Britton, who happened to be the best reliever anywhere in baseball this year, sitting on the bench.
The fallout was swift and severe. Columnists, bloggers, and fans rightly derided manager Buck Showalter, typically something of a sabermetric darling, for being the latest in a long line of playoff managers to manage to position his team for a future game they would never get to play. (See Fredi Gonzalez as a recent, obvious example)
Possibly in response to the Orioles’ debacle – not to give bloggers too much credit, Showalter made a transparent baseball mistake- managers in the rest of the postseason have been notably aggressive.
Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts deployed his closer Kenley Jansen in the 8th inning 3 times in the NLDS and CS, and once in the 7th in game 5 of the DS against the Nationals. Jansen even pitched in the 6th inning in the team’s final game of the year; Jansen is usually used for just 3 outs, but went for 3 innings to keep NLCS Game 6 close.
Indians’ manager Terry Francona is perhaps the most talked about guy this October. He and his bullpen Ace Andrew Miller have been blowing the existing bullpen paradigm out of the water.
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